ELP in 900 more schools McGuinty’s gift to teachers’ unions!

Ontario has a huge $18+ BILLION dollar deficit and is now a “HAVE-NOT” province. Yet, you would never guess it given the decisions coming out of the McGuinty Liberal government. Yesterday, for example, we found out that the full-day “Early Learning Program” (ELP) for four and five-year olds that was rolled out last September in selected schools, would add another 900 schools in September 2011. I will repeat that. 

NINE HUNDRED more schools!

So, how many more early childhood and elementary school teachers do you think will  be needed to staff ELP programs in 900 more schools —  which by the way are scheduled to start exactly one month before the 2011 Ontario election? Even if there were only one extra classroom in each of those 900 schools, there would need to be at least one qualified teacher and one “Early Childhood Educator.” Meaning, we are looking at the public school boards in Ontario hiring upwards to 1800 more employees, at a very minimum!

So, if the first part of the program involved $1.5 billion, then we are likely looking at another similar amount, in spite of the many problems being experienced now. For instance:

  • We know that some communities don’t want the program; 
  • We also know that some communities are experiencing conflicts and logistics problems between existing non-profit and private day care operators and the before and after day care programs — which is why McGuinty gave up on that idea;
  • Then, there are dozens of infrastructure-related problems, such as no capital funding to build more classrooms or to increase parking spaces for the increased numbers of teachers and parents at existing schools.
  • And, of course, there really isn’t any parent choice, other than send your child for a full-day or keep them at home until they are six years old.

So, what does it all mean? Well, Premier Dalton McGuinty and the McGuinty caucus are hoping that young parents will suddenly forget how high their hydro bills are and that all the wasted money on wind farms and green energy boondoggles will be forgotten. They also likely hope that the teachers’ unions and their members will support the Liberals for all the largess they are going to receive on behalf of the Ontario taxpayer.

Well, I don’t think so! There is an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In other words, we will not be fooled a third time.

Will the Ontario PCs and its leader Tim Hudak cancel the ELP? Not likely.  As PC MPP Jim Wilson says in this CTV article, they simply would not expand it any further.  Why would they not cancel it? First of all, because some kids in some communities will benefit from a head start.  Secondly, because no one is going to take away a program young parents have gotten used to and for the most part, like.

However, will the extension of the ELP into 900 more schools be a gift to the teachers’ unions? Absolutely!

Globe’s Radwanski thinks McGuinty’s “education record” key to re-election in 2011

What is it about so many Canadian professional journalists that they feel they have to continually promote Liberal governments, even when they are doing a bad job of governing? And, yes, the McGuinty-led Liberals have done a bad job of governing Ontario, particularly given the number of e-Health-like boondoggles, wind energy and other money sucking green initiatives, the HST and other tax increases (e.g. the health premium and eco-taxes come to mind), as well as ever rising hydro rates. In fact, the Ontario Liberals have taken Ontario from “have” to “have not” status in just a few years, requiring equalization payments be returned to Queen’s Park. Meaning, that Ontario is no longer the economic engine of Canada. 

Yet, plugging for the Ontario Liberal Party is exactly what Adam Radwanski seems to be attempting in today’s Globe and Mail (H/T Catherine). I say “seems to be attempting” because, while he does provide several reasons for the McGuinty Liberal government to stress their record on education in order to get re-elected in October 2011, he also presents several caveats as to why that may not happen.  And, on those points, I would agree.

Endnote: Post shortened on Friday, December 23rd, 2010. C/P at Jack’s Newswatch.

Cancelling “key” to Early Learning Program another McGuinty flip-flop

As this ParentCentral article states, the McGuinty government has just flip-flopped on another major promise. Yet, I have to admit that even I was surprised to hear that the Ontario Liberals will be withdrawing the demand that Ontario public school boards run before and after school day care programs — meant to operate in conjunction with the full-day kindergarten, now called the Early Learning Program (ELP).  (H/T Catherine).

Remember, it was only a year ago that the ELP was announced with great fan fare — something I, and other CotM regulars, were sceptical about all along. First, parents already had day care arrangements. Second, existing private and non-profit day care operators were going to be put out of business. Third, it was going to cost billions of additional tax dollars, in the middle of a recession, for more teachers and Early Childhood Educators. And, fourth, and just as important as the other reasons, it became obvious very early on that many communities, particularly rural jurisdictions, simply didn’t want to change the services they already offered.

So, what brought on this policy in the first place? Well, we need look no further than the Charles Pascal report. As the province’s “Early Learning Advisor,” he recommended that schools become community hubs by providing early learning from birth right through to full-day schooling.  For Dr. Pascal’s specific guidelines, simply click on the “early learning summary of evidence” highlighted link.

Now, to be fair, its true that some public boards of education will simply continue to run their before and after school day care programs because they are already operated by for-profit or non-profit day care groups (like the WMCA).  However, the boards won’t be compelled to set up an entirely new infrastructure and the human resources that would go with it.

Now, the big question is:  Going into 2011 and the looming Ontario election, will this flip-flop help the Ontario Liberals? No, it won’t. In fact, my guess is that, given the majority of the comments at ParentCentral, it will actually do just the opposite. People are just plain fed up with the so-called “education” premier and a government that only knows how to tax, spend money and make changes, all the while assuming Ontarians are patient and have bottomless pockets of cash.

Well, given that this turn-around is going to disrupt thousands of lives, it’s probably the last straw that will almost certainly guarantee a change of government in October of 2011 — to the Ontario PC Party.

Oh, and one more thing. Given that Ontario PC Leader, Tim Hudak made it clear, that eliminating the before and after day care component of the ELP was exactly what his government would do, if elected, we can almost guarantee that the PC Party will not release an election platform any time soon. Because, to do so would simply ensure that the Ontario Liberals either criticize its policy ideas or steal them outright.

Would Hudak’s Ont PC’s provide real choice re kindergarten?

Interesting that in ParentCentral.ca magazine,  the Ontario McGuinty Liberals are now trying to convince parents that they actually do have a “choice” regarding participation in the full-day kindergarten. Clearly that is not the case at all. In fact, their options are only that their young children either attend or not attend — since kindergarten is not compulsory in Ontario. Some choice that is. In fact, that is no choice at all. Parents either do it the McGuinty government’s way or not at all.

Instead, choice should have been half-day versus full-day kindergarten — which was what Premier Dalton McGuinty originally promised. Meaning, another broken promise.  Well, if the mayoralty race in Toronto is any indication, Ontarians are not going to simply say “okay sir, anything you say sir.” Meaning, the Ontario Liberals are going to go down to defeat in the provincial election of October 2011 in a big way — a way that they, in their current mode of arrogance and entitlement, simply seem to have no idea how bad it is going to be.  
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ETFO campaign for ECE a conflict of interest?

Whether the acronym is ECE, which stands for “Early Childhood Educator” or ELE “Early Learning Educator,” those individuals who are trained to teach children under the age of five are going to be the glue that holds the new Ontario early learning program (ELP) or full-day JK/SK program together.

So, it is interesting that up until the ELP was approved by the Ontario McGuinty government, ETFO went out of its way to  suggest that only teachers with elementary qualifications (ETFO’s current member group) should be in charge of the full-day JK/SK in order to facilitate the transition to regular school. 

In fact, that was the rationale  the government gave when it announced that its new full day ELP would be staff by “qualified” teachers all day long, with ECE qualified individuals providing back-up for part of the day — but always under the jurisdiction of the teacher.

So, it is puzzling now that ETFO has mounted a serious campaign to suggest they would be the best union to represent ECE staff, particularly since CUPE currently covers most, if not all, public sector childcare workers. 

In other words, I have major concerns about the same union representing both qualified elementary school teachers and ECE staff. I mean, clearly when push comes to shove, would not ETFO favour its first priority and mandate, and that is the interests of elementary school teachers? If so, there is the potential for a serious conflict of interest for those who are early childhood specialists.

Surely something for those with ECE qualifications to think about.

Endnotes:

Ontario’s full-day JK/SK “only” option divisive

Update: It has occurred to me that Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Ontario Liberals are using the same divisive strategy that the federal Liberals under Michael Ignatieff are using and what Levant is calling the “Graves Strategy.” In McGuinty’s case, he introduces a full-day JK/SK program but says “don’t worry, be happy,” parents can still choose the half-day if they want. Now, we find out that is not the case at all. In fact, before too long, the full-day JK/SK will be compulsory. If parents don’t like that they can keep their young children at home until Grade one. 

Then, this week they try to sneak in a sex education curriculum and when the Premier has to back track, he blames Christians and fundamentalists. In other words, the divide and conquer approach seems to be the Liberal way. If anyone complains, they are homophobes, anti-immigrant, anti-progressive or stay at home parents who simply don’t count. Disgusting!

Original post starts here: Ontario MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) is right to sound the alarm that once the Early Learning Program (ELP) (aka full-day JK/SK kindergarten) is implemented in Ontario public schools, parents will NOT have the choice between a half-day program and a full-day program. Rather, the choice — which isn’t really a choice for parents — will be for their child to either participate in the full-day program or remain at home until they are six years old.

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Consequences of Ontario’s ELP/full-day JK/SK

The headline at ParentCentral.ca reads: “Daycare system near collapse, advocates say” and states (h/t Jack’s Newswatch): “The loss of $63.5 million in federal child care cash next month and the fall launch of all-day kindergarten for 4- and 5-year olds is creating the ‘perfect storm’ in Ontario’s child care system, advocates warn.”

Am I surprised? No, not at all. In fact, since the Ontario legislature passed legislation to implement Ontario’s early learning program — referred to as either the ELP or full-day kindergarten — I have been writing that, while it was a good idea in principle, it likely was going to be a financial boondoggle with many unintended consequences.

So, does Premier McGuinty blame the timing of the implementation of the ELP for the reason there is a perfect storm? No he doesn’t. When questioned recently in the legislature by NDP leader Andrea Horwath, he said: “I call upon my colleague to join us in the efforts that we are making to convince the federal government that they should restore that funding on a permanent basis.”

So, now it is somehow the Conservative federal government’s fault that the McGuinty government didn’t weight all the potential consequences of implementing the ELP in 2010, even though they have known for four years that the federal cash would run out in the same year. In other words, the McGuinty government has no one to blame for the pending “perfect storm” then themselves.

c/p Jack’s Newswatch.